Last Saturday I had finished raking the leaves in the front yard and was about to rake the back yard after a short break. Just as I was wondering if we would ever get a frost I looked out the window and saw snow. And it snowed, and snowed, and snowed-fifteen inches in October! But the ground was nowhere near frozen and temperatures warmed so it melted quickly until now, all you see are little snow mounds dotted here and there throughout the neighborhood. Today it is supposed to be 50 degrees and by Monday we should see the mid sixties. That should finish off all the snow mounds left from the freak, once in a lifetime (I hope) October snow storm.
Now that the weather has returned to normal I can get back to raking all the leaves that the snow stripped off the trees. I think I’ll pile them separately in their own pile because I already have plenty on the compost pile. A good mound of leaf mold will come in handy when I want to add organic matter to the soil. Or, more accurately in this yard; when I want to replace gravel with something resembling organic matter. (If you new comers are confused, see “Gardening in gravel” in the June archive)
Some of the leaves will also be used on the roses. Once the ground crusts over and the roses are dormant, and all the rodents have found their winter homes I’ll put a good mound of well draining soil up around the canes at the base of each plant and then cover the soil with a thick mound of leaves. Then I’ll cover the leaves with more soil so they don’t blow away. I could use straw but I have leaves so I might as well save some money. Wetting the leaves slightly will also help keep them in place.
Mounding roses is an old method of wintering over hybrid tea roses and grafted varieties. It is not done to “keep the plant warm.” Instead, it is to keep both plant and soil cold enough so the bush doesn’t come out of dormancy on warm winter days or too early in the spring. This method requires a fairly good memory or a note pad because it is important that the soil mounds are removed in early spring or the canes could rot. I bought two pink, single flowered “Knockout” roses last summer and have heard some people question their hardiness. Since winter nights can get down to thirty below zero in this part of the state mounding might help see them through until spring.
I haven’t even mentioned trenching some bulbs for forcing, so I still have plenty of gardening left to do. One thing is certain; if I don’t stop writing about what I’m going to do and get out there and actually do it, winter really will be here.